More than 120 graduate from Perquimans High School
By Peter Williams
The Perquimans Weekly
Friday, June 8, 2018
HERTFORD — More than 120 Perquimans County High School seniors celebrated a major milestone in their young lives Friday night: completion of high school on Friday night. But also on their minds were two classmates who weren’t able to march across the stage and pick up their diplomas.
Friday’s commencement ceremony on the Perquimans High School athletic field also included tributes to Miles Shipman and Mustafa Holley. Both would have been a part of this year’s graduating class had their lives not ended tragically.
Shipman was just 10 and a student at Hertford Grammar School when he died in June 2011. Holley was a 14-year-old ninth-grader when he was killed in January 2014 in a moped accident.
Holley’s mother, Lynette Bond, attended Friday’s ceremony and was presented with her son’s honorary degree.
Class Salutatorian McKenzie Twine mentioned both Shipman and Holley in her address to fellow graduates.
“This first year was also the year in which we lost our fellow classmate Mustafa Holley,” Twine said, referring to the Class of 2018’s freshmen year. “He was actually preceded in death by Miles Shipman. Both of these classmates should have been sitting here with us today and they are greatly missed.”
Twine congratulated her classmates on their achievements but told them there is so much more for them to do.
“Everything that you have done these past four years should fill you with pride as you have now accomplished one of the lengthiest goals of your life, and there is still more to come,” she said.
Class Valedictorian Raegan Tylar Workman said as the daughter of a high school teacher she got a taste for PCHS at a very early age, well before she came to the school as a freshman. She, too, congratulated her fellow graduates on what they had accomplished, reminding them that they had “made it through both the good times and the bad times ... through four years of testing ... (and) through ‘senioritis’” by sticking together.
Workman also reminded her classmates that they hadn’t reached Friday’s milestone alone.
“We couldn’t have made it without those teachers who went the extra mile to help us achieve our best. We couldn’t have done it without our parents encouraging us every step of the way to be the best we could be to help us arrive at this point. And we couldn’t have done it without each other,” she said.
A number of graduates discussed their time at Perquimans County High School and their future plans.
Emily Paolone said she enjoyed her years at PCHS, noting a small high school has its advantages.
“You are able to make connections with people in the community, and unlike large schools, you are a person with a personality, and not just a number,” she said.
Paolone plans to attend the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and major in biology with a concentration in zoology. She then hopes to attend N.C. State University and study veterinary science. Her goal, she said, is to become a zoo veterinarian.
“I’ve always loved animals and have wanted to save them, but the past year I’ve thought instead of sticking with smaller animals, I’d want to work in zoo,” she said.
Bailey Joyner said her goal is to attend East Carolina University and prepare for a career as an athletic trainer.
“I’ve enjoyed these years, and I think Perquimans County Schools have taught me a lot. I liked the curriculum and enjoyed the classes I’ve had, especially my health science classes,” she said. “I feel I am prepared, but I’m kind of scared (also).”
Nicholas Buchanan has his sights set on attending Western Carolina University.
“I feel Perquimans has prepared me,” Buchanan said.
His favorite part of high school, he said, was band where, among other things, he played the clarinet. He chose to attend WCU because of the school’s band, he said.
“I love the Pride of the Mountains Marching band and that’s a good place to start,” Buchanan said.
Kathryn Kelley said theater and health science courses were her favorite courses, and she agreed that a small school atmosphere was good.
“I’ve gotten a lot of good things out of the school system. You get more attention at a small school and you build better relationships,” she said.
Her next step is the Air Force.
“It will get my foot in the door for the medical field,” she said, adding that her goal is to work as a physical therapist.
Tabatha Cox moved from a large school in New Jersey to Perquimans County and likes her adopted home.
“I think Perquimans schools have offered me a good education. I like that it is small,” she said.
Her short-term plan is to get her associate’s degree from College of The Albemarle, then earn her education degree from Elizabeth City State University. But she doesn’t plan to stay in North Carolina.
“I want to teach special education,” she said. “Right now I’m not ready to graduate, but once I get all my degrees, I am out of here. I want to go to somewhere that pays teachers well.”